Immigration rulings to be opened up

The public should have better access to Federal Government immigration rulings by the end of the year following the letting of a tender to manage its online content.

The introduction of the Content Management System was spurred by delays in updating online information and government mandates, says the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), which hopes to automate processing of the 300 submissions sent to its websites each month.

Bendigo-based web content management provider Objectify will deploy the project for the department over the next 12 months. An evaluation report will be ready by next March, once the system is bedded, DIMIA web services director Lee Fuller says.

If successful, the project will be extended to provide online content management across the department so the web becomes its primary channel for communication. That will bring the department into line with the Commonwealth Government’s Online Strategy, initiated in 2000, to ensure all services are delivered over the internet.

The system is expected to reduce labour costs, increase accuracy and let the department comply with audit and evidentiary requirements to point to information that the public accesses over the websites.

“We had 10 department and minister websites that were manually managed and 19,000 files across that with no automatic processes in place, so the risk was that you were really very reliant on resources,” Fuller says. “The websites have grown like topsy and the extent of the workload now compared to a few years ago is so big that content has become a choking point. We were feeling the pressure of manually marking the content.

“This (content management system) puts the responsibility more firmly into the hands of the authors.”

Authors convert their content into electronic document formats such as HTML and eXtensible Markup Language often used in business reporting without web skills. That should make it easier and quicker to put information on the web for the public.

The project kicked off last month with DIMIA migrating the department’s government portal to the CMS, which will run on two newly acquired servers, as well as using existing infrastructure.

Fuller says the section had initially planned to follow by migrating the main internet site, but switched to phasing in the intranet because it was simpler and allowed it to comfortably establish the business rules at the same time.

He says Objectify had collaborated in making adjustments to the system when limitations emerged, usually at no extra cost.

“The advantage of working with a small-to-medium enterprise is that they have been very flexible compared to large companies, especially those whose software comes from overseas.”

Objectify has won contracts with all levels of government. The company recently secured $500,000 in Federal Government funding and assistance through the Government’s business unit AusIndustry, as well as a Commercial Emerging Technologies (COMET) grant to develop business plans.


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